Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Orchard Selection.

My embryonic orchard/nuttery presently has four cob trees; three cherries; three pear trees; six apple trees; three plums and a quince. I still have an area to clear of its willow and brambles. Hopefully I will be able to denude it before the end of March. I commenced the task today and managed to cut down four willow saplings each of which was approximately twenty feet tall. It is surprising how little wood they provided for next year's wood pile. Probably not much more than one night's supply.

Cutting them down was the easy part. Digging out the roots was much more difficult. I did however leave myself with a five foot length of trunk to provide leverage. If I do manage to clear the balance of the orchard area I will be able to plant another eight trees. What to purchase? More apple trees? Well probably two or three more. I think that I will also opt for another couple of quince. A mulbery tree would be a nice addition as would some medlars. I would also like a walnut tree but its size dictates that it is not appropriate for the nuttery/orchard. Perhaps I will plant one along the boundaries of the lower garden, I must turn my gaze to the online catalogues and determine what types of trees and varieties require to be purchased.


Monday, 28 December 2015

The Inconveniences of Christmas Training.

I didn't manage to go for a run on Boxing Day. I have to concede that that was a definite downside to the day. I have been running for so many years that there is an inherent need to go for a run, or at least get an hour's workout on a daily basis. Without that fillip to the day I feel, however unrationably, that I am putting on weight and becoming unfit. If you aren't a runner or into fitness you won't understand this worm of worry. If you are you will completely understand the worrisome vacuum that is created by a day of inactivity.

Thankfully yesterday and today didn't flash up any obligatory visitations and I was able to enjoy my daily exercise fix. That's not to say that such social interludes can't be and indeed are enjoyable but I dont remember a Christmas when I truly determined how I was going to spend the entirety of the Yuletime period.



Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Replacement Wellies


I consigned my five year old wellingtons to the black bin this morning. This was something that I should probably have done several months ago. The heals of both the boots had worn away to such an extent that they weren't waterproof and both sides of the right hand boot had splits. I accept that I had worn them for a few thousand working hours but I still felt somewhat aggrieved that they had now failed me and forced me to find replacements. Still a wellington that permits the ingress of water is definitely not fit for purpose.

The search for replacement footwear took me to the hardware emporium that is called Workmans. Not for the first time I was ushered up one of their wooden staircases which had probably been constructed more than a hundred years before building control regulations had been thought of. The wellingtons and other boots were housed in a bare stone walled storeroom. I ultimately selected a pair of Goodyear Stream Wellingtons. The thickness of the thermal lining, (3.5mm) and that of the outsole were probably the factors that determined my selection. The price of my new wellingtons was £40. One is always being told that the cheapest deals are on the Internet. I have to concede that I did find one website selling these boots at a cheaper price. I could have saved one pence but I would have had to pay for postage!


Saturday, 12 December 2015

Londonderry Street Names - Part 2

At page fourteen of the Street List and Key to the Ordnance Survey Maps for the City and County Borough of Londonderry of 1940 is a listing of streets which had two distinct names in current use. The first listed names were the authorised names. Three of the first cited names are marked with an asterisk. In those instances one side of the street was referred to by the authorised name whilst the other side of the street was referred to by the second name. Very confusing!


Beechwood Avenue. - Beechwood Park

Carlisle Pass. - Breakneck Steps

Chapel Road. - Chapel Brae

*Cooke Street. - Gordon Street

Derry View. - Bridge View

Fahan Street. - Bogside Street

Limavady Road. - Clooney Road

*Mary Street. - Cooke's Terrace

New Street (Rock). - Rock Terrace

North Street. - Cottage Row

Rossdowney Road. - Kilfinnan Road

St. Columb's Road. - Browning Drive

Shipquay Place. - Guildhall Sq.

* Stewart's Terrace. - Charlotte Crescent

Strand Road (part). - Pennyburn Road

Victoria Park. - Dunfield Park


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Londonderry Street Names - Part 1


In 1940 the City Engineer and Surveyor for the City and County Borough of Londonderry published a small linen backed booklet entitled, "Street List and Key to the Ordnance Survey Maps." As well as listing the streets within the Borough, the name of the nearest main Street is provided along with the length of the thoroughfare, the class of road and its position on Ordnance maps. A fairly prosaic exercise at the time but the passage of years and the planned or enforced redevelopment of the past seventy five years has meant that many of the streets are no more. Even more interesting for those who delve into local history is the inclusion of the old names of various streets. Some examples of these are set out below.

Haw Lane - now Academy Road

Greenslaid's Row - now Aubrey Street

Rosemary Lane - now Bennett Street

South Street - now Bishop Street Without

Carabine Place - now Carlisle Place

Breakneck Lane - now Carlisle Pass

Ponsonby Street - now Clarendon Street, (Upper).

Corbett Street - now Pilot Row

King William's Square - now The Diamond

Gratuitous Street - now Ferryquay Street

Gilmour's Lane - now Hawkin Street

Middle Passage - now Guildhall Street

Rosemary Lane - now Linenhall Street

New Walk - now Foyle Street

Silver Street - now Shipquay Street


Monday, 7 December 2015

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and .......

Another year clocked up and thankfully still no major repairs needed to the human bodywork and no pills or potions required to keep the pistons and engine functioning. That said I know that I am getting older no matter how much I might rail against the thought.

Every year it becomes harder to retain speed and to keep ahead of those very average younger runners. Occasionally one of the blighters will knuckle down to training and highlight my decline. That doesn't help the old psyche but for the moment I don't intend to go gently into the dark night of the former runner. I will attempt to be more specific with my training; target particular races; rest when I can; train with younger runners and push myself for as long as I can.

On cold wet nights it is very tempting not to pull on the running kit and venture out for a run but I know that if I don't do it that I will be angry with myself and equally I know that I will be missing out on that precious hour when I am able to forget, albeit so very transiently, the sucking quagmire of the, "what if," and, "what will happen," questions that otherwise fill my waking hours and gnaw away at the rest.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

Christmas Sprouts


The oft maligned brussel sprout is probably the vegetable which is most closely associated with Christmas. I don't know why so many people dislike the humble sprout. Equally I don't know why it is regarded as such a necessaire of the dinner table on the 25th December. True it is a winter vegetable but so are carrots, parsnips, turnips, swedes, leeks and cabbage. Whatever the reason the shopper for Christmas sustenance seems obliged to throw a bag of sprouts into his or her wire basket.

I truly enjoy the crunchiness of the raw sprout and whilst I am more than happy to consume several or more on Christmas Day I also enjoy consuming their brethren before and after the festive period. I grew on some two dozen brussel sprout plants this year. They aren't quite as good as last year's specimens but they have been providing the vegetable imput for a couple of meals per week for the last month and I expect that this production will continue until the end of January.



Sunday, 29 November 2015

Garlic Days.



I have been a mite slow in moving the garlics indoors this year but there haven't been any frosts worth speaking about so there have been no weather casualties. After lifting the garlic bulbs at the end of July I spread them out on the greenhouse benching to dry. It wasn't long before the yellowing foliage became desiccated and broke off from the bulbs. I have to concede that I have probably grown slightly too many garlics over the past few years. I still have two or three bags of cloves from 2014 in the freezer. That being the case I think that I willi restrict my 2016 harvest to forty or fifty bulbs. That will give me sufficent "seed," for 2017 and also provide a modest harvest for consumption.


Boyfriend for the Chickens

When I went out to the orchard at dusk to close the chicken coop the chickens were still out in the run. It is a bit of a habit but I did a quick count. Nine! None missing then but one extra! Looking into the gloom I realised that the ninth bird was just outside my netting and wasn't a chicken. It was a cock pheasant. All parties seemed to be happy. It wasn't long before the pheasant appreciated my presence and high kneed off to the road. I don't think that Fergus Pheasant had managed to hop over the fence and pleasured the chickens but who knows. Hybrid chickens/pheasants are possible so I had better keep this lothario outside the fence. Looks as if I will need a shotgun.


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Big Egg Little Egg


Just over four weeks have passed since I was presented with my first egg. I suppose that the eggs were initially slightly smaller than one might have purchased from the supermarcardo but heyho that has to be expected from young birds. However over the last month the size of the eggs has increased, likewise that of the chickens, and yesterday one of the eggs was of goose egg proportions. I expect that it will turn out to be a double yolker. Another possibility is that there is an egg inside an egg. That would be much less likely but still a possibility.

I am beginning to suspect that one of the, "girls," is not laying. She is noticeably smaller than the others and her comb is not as large as that of her coop mates. Without the benefit of an infrared camera or a vegetable based marker I can't be totally sure.



Monday, 23 November 2015

Potatoes by the Pound

You won't get too many of these to the pound. In fact rather less than one. Granted this is not a particularly attractive specimen but it weighed in at a stonking eighteen ounces and its shape won't detract from its eating qualities.

I can't remember the variety of this potato. I grew it last year and as it appeared to be a fairly good cropper I kept some three dozen seed potatoes to plant this year. As well as producing a good quantity of large tubers the variety seems to have a high resistance to blight. These two factors have convinced me to keep back a few dozen of the smaller potatoes to plant again next spring.



Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Broharris Canal.

When I was checking W.A. McCutcheon's book, "The Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland," for detail on the Strabane Canal I came upon a few paragraphs on what was referred to as the Broharris Canal. I had heard of this navigation but knew nothing about it save for its approximate location. It was some two miles in length and ran in a south easterly direction from Ballymacran Point. It was constructed during the 1820's at a cost of £4,500. McCutcheon relates that certain heavy and bulky foodstuffs and raw materials were trafficked along the canal but that it was mainly used to bring ashore shellfish and kelp from the shallows of Lough Foyle. The kelp was employed extensively as a fertiliser on the slob lands of Myroe and the surrounding area. I suspect that the cut must have been contiguous to the Burnfoot River.

Not long after the construction of the Broharris Canal there was a proposal to construct a separate canal which would have been some 3 miles and 10 chains in length and would have ran from Ballymacran Point to a basin in the townland of Shanreagh about a mile from the then boundaries of Limavady. It was envisaged that two locks would have been required and that the canal would have had a bottom width of twenty feet and a top width of thirty five and a depth of five feet. A John Killaly carried out a survey and he estimated that construction costs would be some £12,155. Nothing came of this proposal.

Sources: W. A. McCutcheon - "The Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland."

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Copper Bottomed Eggs


I can't say that I have been bereft of kitchen accoutrements to prepare the garden eggs for consumption. That said I was more than happy to accept pre birthday gifts of a miniature proware copper frying pan and saucepan. I suspect that they may have been purchased at Lakeland but as they were gifts it is probably not quite pukka to check out the purchase price!

The frying pan is only 12cm in diameter and the the saucepan has a diameter of 9 cm. That said they can both cope with two eggs. I have to say that I am coming down on the side of fried eggs rather than boiled.


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Around Lough Fea in the Rain

It doesn't seem a year since I took out the horseless carriage and drove into the Sperrins to participate in Sperrin Harriers 5k run around Lough Fea. But a full year had passed and on Saturday I was again standing in the rugged countryside five miles uphill from Draperstown.

Last year's weather was cold but dry. This year it was not only cold but very very wet. A distinct breeze did not improve the conditions. It is easy to make little of the weather forecaster's talk of the windchill factor but if you are running through a constant drizzle with a fifteen or sixteen miles per hour wind buffeting you the headline temperature of eight degrees centigrade, (forty six degrees centigrade in proper measurement) feels much much less. By the time I came through the finish line I couldn't feel my fingers.

The race attracted eighteen more competitors than last year with one hundred and fifty hardy souls lining up. The start point for the race is quite narrow permitting no more than four or five individuals to stand next to one another. Last year the organisers placed time flags along the side of the path with people being asked to stand behind the flag that showed a time close to their estimated finishing time. This useful feature was not utilised this year. As a result there were people standing close to the front row who should clearly have been taking a position fifteen or more rows back. Even more worryingly some of those who were obviously misplaced were juniors. In a world where the mantra of, "health and safety," is bandied about and the risk of litigation is always present it might be appropriate for the organisers to control the start more effectively. The tardiness in the availability of results is also something that needs to be addressed. Thirty hours after the race I still don't know what position I finished in and who I did or did not beat.


Friday, 13 November 2015

Morning Eggs

The chickens are now all performing their chickenly function in a satisfactory manner. One or other of them may take a day off from their egg production duties but seven eggs per diem is now the norm. Hopefully the wintery weather will not result in a downward trend.

I had assumed that most if not all of the eggs would have been, "vented," during the night. Certainly one or two may be present when I let the hens out of their coop shortly after seven o'clock but the bulk of the eggs seem to be laid within an hour of the hens having consumed their breakfast. Strange that. Well maybe not. Perhaps it is a pressure thing. That would sort of make sense.




Monday, 9 November 2015

The Strabane Canal - A Short History

This navigation extended some four miles and five chains from Strabane to the tidal waters of the River Foyle. (A chain is 66 feet in length.) The person behind the project was John James Hamilton, the First Marquess of Abercorn, (it was only in 1868 that the Hamiltons were elevated to the rank of Dukedom). The canal was constructed between 1791 and 1796 at a cost of £11,858 towards which the Irish Parliament provided £3,703 by way of 4% debentures.

Construction was under the supervision of a John Whally of Coleraine although Richard Owen the engineer on the Lagan Navigation was consulted initially in relation to the course of the, "cut." Two locks were required and it was not until 1795 that these were completed. The canal was opened to public traffic on 21st March 1796 to much acclaim. The Strabane Journal reported that the first boat to pass through the canal was owned by a Mr Fleming and that, "ale and bonfires and illuminations and other demonstrations of joy closed the night." Both locks were over one hundred feet in length and could accommodate ocean going schooners of some 300 tons burden. The Abercorn estate charged a tonnage rate of two shillings per ton.

In 1820 the canal was leased to a group of individuals from Strabane and District and for a time the early success of the canal continued. In 1836 over 10,500 tons of merchandise was carried on the navigation. However in 1847 Strabane was connected to Ireland's burgeoning railway network when a standard gauge railway line was completed from Londonderry. This hearalded the move from waterway to railway as a mode of moving freight. On 1st July 1860 the company which had been operating the canal since 1820 went into liquidation. It was replaced by the Strabane Steam Navigation Company which continued to operate the canal until circa 1890 when it too went into liquidation. Its annual gross revenue had never exceeded £3000 with a net profit that never exceeded £300.

The next operator of the canal was the Strabane Canal Company Limited which was incorporated on 28th April 1890. It took a thirty one year lease from the Duke of Abercorn at an annual rent of £300. By this time the condition of the canal had begun to deteriorate. In 1900 the Donegal Railway Company opened its line from Strabane to Victoria Road Londonderry providing another route for transporting freight. In 1913 the second Duke of Abercorn sold the canal to Strabane & Foyle Navigation Limited subject to but with the benefit of the lease in favour of the Strabane Canal Company Limited. Under the auspices of the new owner and its controlling shareholder, (William Smyth), attempts were made to improve the draught of the navigation and a steam tug was acquired. By the 1930's the traffic on the canal had more or less ceased. The construction of the Craigavon Bridge at Londonderry, which unlike its two predecessors did not have an opening section to facilitate up river traffic may well have accelerated matters.

In December 1962 the section of canal from the Strabane Basin was officially closed. In recent years a 1.5 mile portion of the canal including the two locks was renovated with the benefit of a £1.3 m grant.

(For info on Strabane & Foyle Navigation Limited see http://northernscrivener.blogspot.com/2015/10/strabane-foyle-navigation-limited.html)

Sources: W. A. McCutcheon, "The Canals of the North of Ireland," - David & Charles 1965


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Strabane Gasworks.

Strabane's municipal gasworks were established on a site extending to some three acres and three roods situate between what was originally called Port Street, (now Port Road) and the Strabane Canal. As with most of the land in the environs of the town the site belonged to the Abercorns. On 10th May 1904 The Urban District Council of Strabane took a two hundred and fifty year lease of the lands at an annual rental of ten pounds. The term of years ran from 1st November 1903 and the UDC covenanted to construct by 31st October 1905 "such gasworks and other buildings as are contemplated ..... by the Strabane Gas Order 1902."

It appears that the establishment of the Strabane Gasworks was very much dependant upon the Treasury giving a loan of £15,000 to Strabane UDC. On the 11th February 1904 Mr. Hemphill, MP for Tyrone North queried the First Lord of the Treasury, (Austen Chamberlain), about the delay in providing the loan. Chamberlain's response makes clear that the figures presented to the Treasury cast a question mark over the viability of the venture. Clearly however the funds were made available by the Treasury - ultimately.

This was not Strabane's first gasworks. There was apparently a gasworks some 400m South of the Park Street locus. On 20th May 1854 a Mr George Mearns who was described as the manager of the Strabane Gasworks married a Susan Arbuckke at 2nd Presbyterian Church, Strabane.

The Port Road Gasworks ultimately closed down on 9th August 1986. Some two years later the freehold reversion in the site was acquired from the Abercorn Estate by Strabane District Council, (successor to Strabane UDC).



Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Magilligan Tramway

A few months back I received a query about the course of what was described as a railway line running to Magilligan Point. I hadn't been aware that there had been such a line and certainly there hadn't been a locomotive line. There had however been a horse drawn tramway, (standard gauge) for a very short period. It ran from the Londonderry & Coleraine Railway Company line, where Magilligan Station was ultimately constructed, to Magilligan Point with an intermediate halt at Drummond.

I would not be surprised if this tramway holds the record for the shortest lived tramway of all time. It commenced operations on 1st July 1855 and ceased on 1st October 1855. Perhaps it was anticipated that the line would attract tourists to the, "Point," and its Martello Tower and the numbers didn't materialise. Somewhat surprisingly this tramway is not mentioned in W. A. McCutcheon's, "The Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland."

Friday, 30 October 2015

Strabane & Foyle Navigation Limited


I recently came upon certain documents relating to a company by the name of Strabane & Foyle Navigation Limited, (Company number NI 00R697). It was only on the 25th May 1987 that this bit player in our industrial archaeology passed a Special Resolution to have itself wound up voluntarily. The Liquidator was Brian A McMullan, accountant of 28 Hawkin Street Londonderry. The statement of assets and liabilities attached to the Declaration of Solvency disclosed that the Company had the then not inconsiderable sum of £56,378 standing to its credit at its Bank. A loan or advance of £620 was the only other asset shown. It did however still own a substantial portion of the by then long since disused Strabane Canal and in November 1988 it sold same to a local farmer by the name of Joseph Edwards for £5000. Why there was no value attributed to this in the statement of assets and liabilities is difficult to know. Perhaps it was perceived as having a zero value. If so then the sum realised must have come as a pleasant surprise.

Strabane & Foyle Navigation Limited acquired the Strabane Canal on 4th March 1913 from James Albert Edward Hamilton the third Duke of Abercorn who by then was tenant for life under the terms of the Marriage Settlement of 6th January 1869 which had been entered into in anticipation of the marriage of the second Duke, (then Marquis of Hamilton) to Lady Mary Anna Curzon. The canal lands were one of the properties the subject of this settlement.

The Second Duke had on 2nd December 1912 contracted with one William B Smyth and others acting on behalf of Strabane & Foyle Navigation Limited, (being a Company then intended to be and subsequently incorporated) for the sale of the Canal in fee simple subject to but with the benefit of a lease dated 28th June 1891 whereby the Second Duke had demised the Canal to Strabane Canal Company Limited for a term of thirty one years from 1st November 1890. The Second Duke died on 3rd January 1913 without having completed the sale and accordingly it fell to the third Duke, along with the trustees of the Settlement to complete the transaction. The price paid was £2,000.



Tuesday, 27 October 2015

First Egg of Autumn.

Finally after feeding the chickens for three and a half weeks one of their number has decided to repay me with an egg. About time!
I expect with the shorter days that a certain tardiness in the commencement of their egg laying lives has to be expected. They are supposed to start laying between eighteen and twenty two weeks. With this Friday being the completion of twenty two weeks from hatching it looks as if they might all just about get a handle on their obligations within the expected parameters.
Today's solitary egg is somewhat small. Certainly no danger of it rolling out of the egg cup.



Monday, 26 October 2015

Not so Chilli Jam

The chilli peppers have done surprisingly well this year. Many have already been utilised in currys and chutneys. Others have been frozen or dried. Today I decided that I should utilise some of the remaining chillis in the production of chilli jam. A strange subriquet for something that is not really suitable for spreading on one's afternoon scones. This is more of a fiery jelly or conserve which compliments a salty blue cheese.

The receipe of choice for this savoury conserve came from the, "Nigella," stable. Unfortunately she has succumbed to metrification so I have have had to convert the weights and quantities back Into proper British measure so that I can understand what I am talking about.

The ingredients are not numerous. Five and a quarter ounces of deseeded red chilli peppers; ditto red peppers together with thirty five ounces of jam sugar and twenty one fluid ounces of cider vinegar.

The chillies and peppers require to be finely chopped in a food processor. Thereafter the sugar needs to be dissolved in the vinegar over a low heat. Next the chilli/pepper mix is added to the sugar and vinegar. A ten minute," rollicking " boil is then required after which the pan is permitted to cool. Some forty minutes later the jelly is ready to be decanted into sterilised small jars.

I suppose I had better leave the jelly until Christmas before checking the culinary outcome.






Friday, 23 October 2015

Joseph Young's Charity For Girls

I suppose that this could be described as the distaff side of the Gwyn and Young Endowments. It originated in a bequest left by a Joseph Young upon his death in Decenber 1842 for the purpose of clothing, maintaining and educating female children from the City and Liberties of Londonderry. For some fifty years the Young Estate was under the supervision of two trustees who were also nephews of the deceased, Messrs John and Joseph Cooke. An adherent of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Joseph Young's father acted as stated supply from 1787 until his death in 1794 at Faughan Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Due to the numerous annuitants who benefited from Mr Young's estate the charity was not operational by 1888. In that year on Saturday 19th May the Educational Endowments (Ireland) Commission sat at the Courthouse Londonderry to hear the objections of the Young Trustees to a draft scheme which proposed the amalgamation of Gwyn Endowments and the Young Charity. Mr John Cooke of Counsel who was yet another relative of Joseph Young appeared on behalf of the Young Trustees. Mr J. J. Shaw appeared on behalf of the Gwyn trustees. The latter were generally supportive of the proposed amalgamation. The Young Trustees did not wish to be, as they saw it, subsumed into the Gwyn Endowments charity. Ultimately however this was to be the outcome.

Both John Gwyn and Joseph Young were strong adherents of the Victorian principle of philanthropy. Both gentlemen left substantial monies to assist the impoverished and deserving youthful citizenry of Londonderry. It is perhaps unfortunate that the real value of their bequests has declined with the passage of years and the enslaught of inflation. I suspect that unless there is a marked change in the administration of the Charity that it will not be long before it is the subject of a cy pres application. That would be unfortunate but perhaps inevitable. Yet another footnote in our social history.





Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Cost of Chicken Feed.



I am discovering that there is a considerable discrepancy in the cost of chicken feed. Not surprising really. When I set up my embryonic garden chicken enterprise I purchased 20kg of layers pellets from the suppliers of the coop. The price extracted from my wallet was £11.25. I did know that I was paying slightly over the odds but it was convenient and at least I knew that I had food available for the forthcoming birds.

With eight chickens a twenty kilo bag lasts about 20 days. Pets at Home proffered 20kg at £12.50. No cost saving there. On Saturday I paddled along to the village agricultural suppliers. When I requested a bag of layers pellets I was asked if I wanted it charged up to my account. I admitted that I would be paying for the bag at the time of purchase. The cost was £7.35 for 25kg. I think that I know where my future purchases of chicken feed will occur.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Chicken Feed

The chickens are getting used to their feeder. Rather than have one which was continually open to the chickens, the elements and any vermin I invested in a footplate operated feeder. As the average chicken is not overly bright, pretty thick actually, one has to give them some time to become inculcated as to its usuage. For the first week the footplate was inoperative and the lid to the feeding tray remained fully open. I have now altered the settings so that the lid is only partially open. As a consequence the chooks can still see the food pellets but the lid only opens fully if they stand on the now slightly raised footplate. Next week the lid will be fully closed unless the chickens stand on the footplate.

The sales literature assures me that I will save oddles of money by keeping the food dry and not loosing any to passing rodents. Hopefully this all proves to be correct. The little beggars do manage to guzzle quite a lot of food in the course of a week, about 40p per bird I guesstimate. Garden eggs are not particularly cheap to produce.

As well as providing the chickens with their layers pellets I have been hanging up bunches of fresh nettles for them to peck at and I have also introduced several cabbage leaves to the coop. The latter have proved to be extremely popular. The ribs remain uneaten but none of the greenery remains.

Several manufacturers have poultry feeders of the type that I have purchased. The feeder which I selected is sold under the name or style of, "Grandpas Feeders." It comes in two sizes, a standard feeder which holds 9kg of pellets and a larger version with double the capacity. The latter was more than large enough for my mini flock.




Friday, 9 October 2015

Circuitous Day

Tuesday night's session was tough. Yes I was feeling tired anyway and yes the years do weary one but I still like to think that most of the post session tiredness was the result of my efforts on the track. The normal warmup and drills prefaced the main course of the session - 7 x 800m with 90 seconds jog recovery in between. As usual we were working in groups of roughly similar ability. The target time for myself and my compatriots was 2min 56. We averaged 2min 54s. Eighty seven seconds per lap doesn't sound that fast but it would give me a sub eighteen minute 5k if I could maintain the pace and this was after all a 5k session.



Friday, 2 October 2015

New Home for Chickens.


Today, (Friday), was the day that was pencilled in for me to collect my point of lay, (POL), chickens. I know that I could have purchased stock within a few miles from my newly constructed egg coop but I decided to buy from a registered purveyor of teenage chickens in the south of County Antrim. Accordingly I ventured forth in the horseless carriage this morning to the environs of Larne with three large cardboard boxes. Journey's end was a smallholding run by a middle aged woman. She trades under the catchy name of Fowlplay. Over the course of a year she sells some seven thousand five hundred teenage chickens having grown them on from day old chicks.

The cost of my POL's was £6.00 per bird. They were surprisingly quiet on the drive home and to date they seem content with their new home. One bird declined to jump up into the coop for her nightime roost but she displayed no resistance when I lifted her and pushed her into the coop along with her compatriots and closed the door for the night.



Chicken House Construction.

When the chicken coop and run arrived from Omlet the instructions for its erection assured me that three hours would be more than suffice time to finish the task. Oh that it had been so quick! If I am honest it probably took me closer to twelve hours. I expect that someone familiar with the world of flat pack furniture would have found the instruction booklet with its diagrams and drawings extremely clear. I found it slightly confusing and certain stages had to be reversed and reattemped. Anyhows I finally managed to complete the construction by dusk on Wednesday.

Now for the livestock!



Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Grand Jury.

Going through the names of the individuals who sat on the Grand Jury for the County of Londonderry from the year 1820, (that was the first year that there were two Assizes in each year, Spring and Summer), I noticed that the word, "Colt," was written against the names of certain gentlemen. On purusing this matter further it seems that this term was used to identify persons who were appearing on the Jury for the first time. At the Spring Assizes of 1874 where the Judges were Mr Baron Fitzgerald and Chief Justice Whiteside no fewer than five of the twenty three jurors were, "Colts," namely Professor Richard Smyth MP, Daniel Taylor Esq MP, and Messrs. William McCarter, John Haslett and James Clark.

Grand Juries were done away with by virtue of the Grand Jury (Abolition) Act (Northern Ireland) 1969. Their administrative powers in connection with such things as roads, bridges and asylums had been previously taken away by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898. This same Act established the cities of Belfast and Londonderry as separate County Boroughs.

The foremen of the Grand Jury for County Londonderry from 1820 until the end of the nineteenth century and the dates of their appointment were as follows:-

Alexander Robert Stewart MP 1820

Henry Barre Beresford 1821

Rt. Hon. Sir George Fitzgerald Hill 1821

Andrew Knox 1822

Sir James Bruce 1823

Geo. Robert Dawson MP

Marcus McCausland 1827

Sir Robert Bateson MP 1834

Connolly Gage 1842

Henry Richardson 1845

Thomas Bateson 1846

Sir H Harvey Bruce 1849

Thomas Scott 1851

Theobald James MP 1852

James Johnston Clark MP 1858

Robert Peel Dawson MP 1860

Acheson Lyle 1862

Sir Frederick Wm. Heygate 1867

John B Beresford 1869

R. A. Ogilby DL 1889

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Mini Tomato Glut.


It's remarkable what a few days of moderate sun will do to ripen autumn's green tomatoes. This time last year I had managed to pick all my tomatoes and the plants had been taken out of the greenhouse. This year even after today's picking I expect there are still thirty or forty pounds of fruit to ripen and pull. Hopefully there are no early frosts and I am able to benefit from all of the remaining tomatoes. I haven't weighed the contents of the two trays of tomatoes resulting from today's picking but I expect there must be about a stone of produce. Soups, sauces and chutneys beckon.


Sunday, 27 September 2015

EU Referendum - a fictional result

Head of State. - Andrew Marr - Fourth Estate

I suppose that one would describe this book as a political thriller. The events are set against the backdrop of a referendum to determine whether the UK should or should not exit the EU. It is set in the near future.

I didn't buy this book and having read it I can safely say that I wouldn't have. That said I plodded through its three hundred and sixty seven pages manfully and at least initially I would hope with an open and receptive mind.

I found the characters to be rather stereotypical. Very definitely two dimensional. The behaviour of politicians and civil servants alike was very cliched, when it wasn't fantastical. A right wing individual with the surname of Panzer! At least his forename was not Gengiss. The prime minister dies on the eve of the referendum. This fact is not released but rather Rory Bremner is brought in by the political mandarins to imitate the prime minister's voice. Very believable! Meanwhile his corpse is decapitated and his hands hacked off. The balance of the cadaver is then moved through secret passages and its ultimate disposal is left to the tender ministrations of three Poles.

If Mr. Marr wishes to be known as a novelist then this effort will not assist his cause unless he wishes to be known as a very poor novelist.



Thursday, 24 September 2015

Homes for Chickens

Now that I have decided to purchase a few chickens, well more or less decided, I have to consider the rather more expensive matter of a home for these egg producers. It seems as if there is no limit as to the amount you can or can't spend on a coop for one's feathered friends. Some individuals are able to utilise existing outhouses or construct their own coop. I am not one of them. One of my friends was able to adapt an old dog kennel for his three girls. Bertha, Betty and Beulah seem quite content in the former residence of a deceased canine and have between them provided eighteen eggs most weeks over the past year.

Being intent on keeping my thumbs and therefore not attempting any DIY I must consider the merits and demerits of the hundreds of coops that litter the advertising pages of the chicken press. These range from the very basic ark type to coops which pretend to be Romani caravans. Peter Viggers would love them. Some are constructed of poor quality softwood whilst others have the benefit of hardwood and dovetailed joints. Some are constructed of recycled products and others of moulded plastic. A veritable cornucopia of options.

It is of course not just a coop that has to be considered. A run is also needed unless you want herbaceous borders pecked to death and you are prepared to risk the predatory attacks of Mr. Reynard. A fixed run with concrete foundations would be the most secure but I like the notion of being able to move coop and run around my embryoic orchard and not ending up with a grassless muddy patch. These thoughts taken in conjunction with a desire to have something that is easily cleaned, maintenance free and unlikely to be infested with red mites has caused me to come down on the side of a rather untraditional coop with integral run and skirting marketed by a firm called, "Omlet." The Eglu Cube is the model which I have determined upon.


Friday, 18 September 2015

Vegetable Coral

Brassicas are one of the mainstays of the vegetable patch. For many years I have grown the usual members of this family, cabbages, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and green brocolli. This year I have added romanesco brocolli to the list. It is I think one of, if not the most striking vegetables that can be grown in our climes. The lime green colour of the heads draws your attention in and then you appreciate the geometric symetery of the florets. The delicacy of their shape reminds me of coral or maybe a roofline view of minarets.



Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Maiden City Whiskey.



It was suggested to me that I might like to sample a new whiskey. An onerous task I know but I accepted the challenge. The name given to this particular brand of beverage is, "The Quiet Man." With a name such as this most people are going to think of the 1952 film starring Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne which was filmed in and about Cong and assume that it originates from that locale. Maybe that is the intention although the managing director of the manufacturer, Niche Drinks, states that it is named after his father, a longtime barman. The drink is to be distilled in Londonderry once a new distillery has been erected. Presently it is apparently matured, blended and bottled in the maiden city.

My preference would be for whisky without an, "e," but I have to say that Ihis tipple was very smooth and palatable.



Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Thoughts of Chickens

Both of my grandmothers kept hens. It was their contribution to the war effort. At this distance from 1939 I suppose that I have to elaborate and say I am talking about the Second World War. My paternal grandmother kept her chickens for eggs. She continued her chicken venture until the mid 1960's. We usually visited her on Sunday afternoons and I remember being drafted in to help her collect the eggs and make up a mash for the laying hens.

My maternal grandmother's efforts were directed towards the breeding and hatching of chicks. She was a member of various chicken breeders' associations and was proud to display their logos on her notepaper. I think it was in the mid 1950's that she ceased her mini business. The outhouse which she used for her venture continued to be called the Incubator House even after her death in 1968.

Maybe it has been the indirect influence of my grandmothers but the notion of having a few chickens has been occupying my mind for the past couple of years. I have now convinced myself that it is a good idea. Whether it will be remains to be seen and experienced. I know that it may just be a hankering for the uncomplicated life of childhood when worry was transient and the future welcomed. It would be nice to think that one could experience the hopes of childhood again even if transiently.


Monday, 7 September 2015

Beans mean Runners.

I think that runner beans must be one of the most productive vegetables that can be grown in the domestic garden. They don't take up that much ground space and of course most of the growth is in the vertical. I managed to grow this year's plants from seed saved from last year's harvest. One does get a bit of a thrill from not having to buy seed and having freebie plants.
In common with most of my vegetables the runner beans have been slow in coming to maturity this year. It has not been a year which has been conducive to the vegetable horticulturalist. I have been somewhat thwarted by the unseasonal weather conditions. That said I am now finding it difficult to use all of the beans as they become ready. Hopefully I will be able to freeze several pounds and make some chutney before frosts draw down the blinds on another year in the garden.



Friday, 4 September 2015

Lisadell - a house with a past.

As well as visiting Lisadell Parish Church on Monday I visited Lisadell House. It is a rather austere limestone edifice. Its literary and artistic associations along with the, "terrible beauty," of Constance Gore-Booth aka Countess Markevitch are I suppose the pulling factors for its tourist traffic. I have to say that I would have preferred to have visited the property knowing that it was still owned by the Gore-Booth family. Unfortunately the ninth baronet decided to , "sell up," and it is now owned by two SC's from Dublin, The 2004 sale price of circa €3.5m for the mansion and 400 acres does not seem at all unreasonable.

Clearly a considerable sum has been spent in renovating the house and the stable yard but the result leans somewhat to a theme park result. I cannot but think that the now owners have profit to the forefront of their minds rather than preservation. That said maybe in today's economic environment the former is a prerequisite of the latter.

The house was constructed between 1830 and 1835 to the designs of Francis Goodwin. It is a nine bay two storey over basement dwelling with a three bay pedimented central projection forming a porte-cochere to the north. The southern aspect looks over Sligo Bay. The former croquet lawn is no longer present nor are the immediate flower beds. The haha remains but a former pond is now devoid of water. The walled alpine garden which is next the shore is well maintained and deserving of inspection and contemplation. The two acre kitchen garden requires years of effort before it attains a standard worthy of inspection.


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

In the Steps of HRH.

Lisadell Church Co Sligo is in the diocese of Elphin. It is one of three churches in the Drumcliffe group of parishes. Considering its rural location it is surprisingly large, not quite as big as Drumcliffe Parish Church and of course not on the tourist trail in the manner of Drumcliffe. It doesn't have the benefit of a W. B. Yeats in its graveyard! Mind you there now seems to be some doubt as to whether it was his remains which were repatriated on board the French navy's Le Macha.

Unfortunately the Church was locked up when I called at it on Monday. The grounds are well kept, the grass cut short and the gravel paths and drives weed free and raked. If one was cynical one might postulate that this is merely a legacy from the visit of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in May of this year but I genuinely do not believe that to be the case.

To the east of the church building and surrounded by hedging are the graves of the Gore-Booth family. Despite the family's former position as the major landowners in the area the headstones are surprisingly modest. Its most famous or some might say its most infamous member, Constance, is of course not buried with her forebearers, politics and religion resulting in her being laid to rest in Dublin's Glasnevin cemetery. She had given up the religion of her birth and converted to Catholicism circa 1916.

The church is constructed of limestone and was completed in 1860 in a gothic revival style. The proportions of the three stage bell tower are, I view, highly complimentary to the elevations of the five bay nave. The result is a sympathetically proportioned building.



Monday, 31 August 2015

Autumn Flowering Apple



It has been a strange year in the garden. Late frosts, a dearth of bees, an excess of rain and average temperatures in the fourth quartile. Whilst walking around my embryonic orchard today I noted that one of the apple trees had decided to redesignate late summer as springtime. It has stupidly decided that it is the correct time of year to burst into flower. Silly tree! It is tempting to let the sapling proceed with its flowering but logic tells me that this is a waste of arboreal effort. I will snip off the flowers and allow the tree to garner its resources in anticipation of the forthcoming autumn and winter. Maybe it will decide to do what all right thinking apple trees should do and produce flowers next spring so that I will be able to pick a few pounds of fruit in twelve months time. Here's hoping.


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Piccalilli Days.

A superfluity of cauliflowers and courgettes prompted the dusting down and sterilisation of four preserving jars. Two diced cauliflowers and three courgettes were joined by similarly prepared green peppers, French beans and shallots. A total of four pounds of vegetables from the garden ended up in a preparing bowl with a liberal quantity of salt and left for twenty four hours before being thoroughly rinsed with cold water. Thereafter a paste of cider vinegar, turmeric, mustard powder, powdered dried chilli, cumin, coriander and cornflower was prepared. About a pint of vinegar together with a cup full of granulated sugar and a little honey was then brought to the boil. The paste was then added to the vinegar and the resultant concoction boiled and stirred for some four minutes before being taken off the ring and the vegetables added and folded in. The sterilised and still slightly warm jars were then filled, sealed, labelled and confined to the cellar for winter consumption.


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Tumbling Tom Tomatoes.

I decided to grow some trailing tomatoes this year in addition to the normal cordon varieties. The seeds were purchased mail order from Marshalls. The variety chosen was Tumbling Tom, (yellow).

I can't remember exactly how many seeds were in the packet but I do remember thinking that they were quite expensive. Six seeds germinated. After pricking out I grew them on in three inch pots for some four weeks before transplanting them into their permanent homes, a series of ten inch pots resting on the benching.

The fruit are of course small, not much larger than a marble but they are quite sweet. I do find it difficult to resist eating two or three every evening when I am performing my watering tasks. At that time of day they still retain the warmth of the sun and as I am eating them straight from the plant I cannot but take in that very distinct aroma of the fresh tomato.

This is undoubtedly a prolific cropper and I would think that I will get at least one and a half pounds of fruit per plant. What might put me off growing this variety again is that it does seem to be rather susceptible to botrytis.




Thursday, 20 August 2015

Greenhouse Resident

In the spring of this year I came upon a smallish frog among the indoor strawberry plants. It would seem that the micro climate of the greenhouse has been so appealing to my amphibian interloper that he, or she, has decided to maintain their residence. Clearly Fred or Freda has managed to find sufficent nurishment within its self imposed prison and provide me with an effective mode of biological control. I have certainly not seen any slugs. The small frog of springtime has grown into what a French gourmand might well now describe as a potential snack. Having tasted this alleged delicacy on one occasion I would not recommend it. The taste is fine but it is just so fiddley to get at the meat. I do prefer my protein fix to be, "off the bone," and in substantial form.


Monday, 17 August 2015

Deputy Lieutenants for the County of Londonderry 1830 - 1900

I recently came across details of the Deputy Lieutenants for the County of Londonderry going back to 1830. I believe that what I viewed was a copy of a ledger that was kept in what was known as the office of the Clerk of the Crown & Peace at Londonderry Court. The ledger was either held there or possibly at the Town Clerk's office. I don't suppose that many individuals will find this list of interest but I have to concede that I did. Sad I know.


Name. Address. Appointment. Decease

Marquis of Londonderry. Mount Stewart. 1830. March 1834

Lord Garvagh Garvagh. 1833. Lieut of Co 1833

Sir R A Ferguson Bart. The Farm. 1833.VL1837.Lieut1841. 1860

Sir James Bruce Bart. Downhill. 1833 VL 1835. 1836

Henry Barrie Beresfort. Learmount. 1833. 1837

Marcus McCausland. Fruit Hill. 1833. 1869

Henry Richardson. Somerset. 1833. 1849

Wm Lenox Conyngham. Spring Hill. 1833. 1858

Richard Hunter. Jackson Hall. 1833. 1857

Lt. Col. Andrew Knox. Prehen. 1833. 1840

Thomas Scott. Willsborough. 1833. Jan 1872

Geo Hill (afterwards Sir G Hill Bart). St. Columbs. 1833. Dec 15 1845

Lord Stafford. London. 1837. June 3rd 1860

Wm Hamilton Ash. Ashbrook. 1838. Nov 1866

Leslie Alexander. Foyle Park. 1838. 1852

Stewart Crawford Bruce. Coleraine. 1838. Feb 18th 1872

Conolly Gage. Bellarena. 1838. 1843

Alexander Ogilby. Pellipar. 1832. Dec 1837

John Acheson Smith. Ardmore. 1838. 1848

Hugh Lyle. Oaks Lodge. 1839 1845

James Ogilby. Pellipar. 1839. Aug 17th 1885

Nathaniel Alexander. Pt. G ? 1839. Jan 1852

Conolly Skipton. Beech Hill. 1839. March 1854

Robert Bateson. MP Belvoir Park. 1840. 1844

Edmund (Sir E McNaughten Bart). Roe Park. 1840. 187?

John Barrie Beresford. Learmount. 1841 (VL 1867)

Sir H Henry Bruce Bart. Downhill. 1841 ( Lt 1871). Dec 8th ?

Thos (afterwards Sir T Bateson Bart). Belvoir Park

George Knox. Prehen. 1848. 1848

Conolly Lecky. Pump St. Derry 1848. July 17th 185?

Acheson Lyle. The Oaks. DL 1848 Lt 1861. April 22nd 18?

Rowley Miller. Moneymore. 1848. 1866

Robert Paul Dawson. Mohola Park. DL 1849 Lt 1870. Sept 1877

John Stevenson. Fortwilliam. 1849. 1856

John Cromie. Cromore. 1852. Jan 187?

Lord Garvagh. Garvagh. 1853 1871

Sir F. W. Heygate Bart MP. Bellarena. 1854. Nov 14th 18.

John Boyd MP. Coleraine. 1855. 1862

Sir Robt Bateson Bart. Belvoir Park. 1856. 1863

Robert Leslie Ogilby. Ardnangle. 1857. 1872

Sir Robert Bateson Bart. Cas? 1858. April 1872

Wm Lenox Conyngham. Spring Hill. 1858. 1908

James Johnston Clarke. La? 1859. June 1871

Samuel Maxwell Alexander. Roe Park. 1861. June 1886

Thos Richardson. Somerset. 1861. April 1868

George Skipton. Beech Hill. 1864. 1877

Conolly Thos McCausland. Drenagh. 1864. June 1902

Major George Browne. Cumber House. 1867. 1887

Captain Mintgomery. Benvarden. 1867. Resigned 1877

James Acheson Lyle. The Oaks. 1867. 1907

Robert Holbeche Dolling. Manor House Kilrea. 1868. Sept 1878

Sir John Hill Bart. St. Columbs. 1870. July 1872

John Adams. Ballydevitt 1870. Oct 1877

Hon Robert O'Neill. Derrynoyd. 1871. August 1910

Col Geo Knox. Prehen. 1872. Nov 1910

Major William Scott. Willsborough. 1872. March 1913

Hon Albert Canning. Garvagh. 1872.

Robert J Alexander. Portglenone. 1875. Resigned

Major A. Spencer Chichester. Moyola Park. 1877. 1901

Rt. Hon Sir Samuel Martin. Myroe. 1877. 1883

Henry Kyle. Laurel Hill. 1877. April 1878

Lt. Col. Stewart Bruce. Ballyscullion. 1877. 1909

Robert Lyon Moore. Molenan. 1878. June 1902

Captain Butler M. Giveen (?). Cooldaragh. 1878. June 5th 1891

J. A. W. Torrens. Somerset. 1898 (V. Lt. 1909)

Col. St. J. L. Bruce. Downhill. 1883. May 8th 1919

Captain Robert Ogilby. Pellipar. 1885. 1902

William Tillie. Duncreggan House. 1886. March 1904

Hugh Lyle Knocklarna. Sept 1888

W. L. H Brown RM. Comber. 12 th March 1891. 1901

W. R. H. Beresford RWF. Ashbrook. 10th August 1891. 1901

Sir F. G. Heygate Bart. Bellarena. 12th December 1894

Col. J J Clark (Ld Lieut 1915). Larganbogher. December 12th 1894. 1926

Wm. W. F. Bigger. Riverview. November 1895. 1901

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Low Flying Aircraft.

I was driving along a minor country road this afternoon. The hedgerows were about five feet high. There was no other traffic. Cattle were in the fields and I passed a farmer baling haylage into those great round black plastic covered bales. A fairly tranquil rustic scene. Certainly no indication of any traffic hazards

I became aware of a buzzing noise which gradually became louder. Then no more than twenty yards in front of me a Cessna aircraft skimmed across the road and hedgerows. A close encounter. Thankfully it was not a full scale plane but rather a model aeroplane. The experience was nonetheless rather disconcerting. It transpired that my road of choice was on the edge of the airstrip for a model aeroplane club. Not the driving hazard that one expects!


Friday, 14 August 2015

Hot and Sweet - Peppers.

Somewhat surprisingly, in view of the unseasonal summer weather, my various pepper plants are growing apace and there is every prospect of a fiery crop from the chilli peppers. It would be interesting to know where they would rate on the Scoville scale. The fruits are still very green but hopefully the sun will deign to poke through the banks of cloud for a few days before the end of September and bring the peppers to their red maturity. Save for the sweet peppers which really need to be used shortly after picking I would expect to freeze most of the others for winter usuage. A few of last years crop are still rattling around in the freezer.



Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Connaught Rangers at King House.


During my recent lunchtime sojourn in Boyle, Co Roscommon I spent a short time in King House. Although built as a residence for the King family in the first half of the eighteenth century it subsequently saw service as a barracks for the Connaught Rangers and the Roscommon Militia. After having been rented to the War Office for some years it was sold to it in 1795 for £3,000. A military usuage was continued after the disbandment of the Connaught Rangers in 1922 and the laying up of the regiment's colours at Windsor Castle. Ultimately the building was to fall into decrepitude before being purchased and reinstated by Roscommon County Council. Among other uses the building now houses the museum of the Connaught Rangers Association.

I had hoped to have time to look around the entire museum before leaving for home but a stroll around what is described as the Remembrance Room was all that time permitted. This deals primarily with the regiment's role at Gallipoli. Among the many photographs of those who did not survive the bloodbath that was the Great War was a faded image of a private soldier who was to die some two years later in India. This individual, one James Daly, has the dubious honour of being the last British soldier to be shot for mutiny. Daly was the ringleader of the Jullundur mutiny. Another seventy seven soldiers were sentenced to imprisonment. Eighteen of the latter number were originally to receive the same fate as Daly but had their sentences commuted.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Garden Produce.


'Twas not a day for working in the garden unless one wanted to be very wet. I had hoped to tidy up what I hopefully call the orchard. The weather conditions prevented me carrying out the horticultural tasks that I had anticipated. I did however venture into the evening wetness to pluck some veg from the kitchen garden. The cauliflowers have plumped up well in the last few weeks. I chose one of their number for presenting to my parents tomorrow. I also selected three gherkins for inclusion in their salads. The tomato plants are proving to be very disappointing. They are healthy but the weather is not assisting the ripening of the fruit. I suspect that it will be the third or fourth month of August before I will have red tomatoes on the vine.


Monday, 3 August 2015

A Contested Settlement

One Family - A Tale of Division, Devotion and Restitution - Henry Macrory - Curly Burn Books

I bought my father this book for his last birthday. Whilst it contains something of the generational history of the McCausland family of Drenagh its emphasis is on the inter family court case and the preamble to same that threatened to divide the family for most of the 1940's. The prize was not insubstantial, the Drenagh Estate with the Lanyon designed five bay mansion house at its centre.

The basic facts of the case were familiar to me. The estate was entailed and when it was resettled upon Connolly McCausland's twenty first birthday in 1927 his father, (Maurice), caused a forfeiture clause to be inserted which became operative should a successor become a Roman Catholic or indeed profess that religion. Such an eventuality would, as drafted, not only disinherit the successor but also his heirs even if they did not profess to be Roman Catholics. This clause was repeated in Connolly's marriage settlement in 1932. Maurice was to die in 1938. In 1940 Connolly converted to the Roman Catholic faith. By virtue of the terms of the forfeiture clause Drenagh passed to Connolly's elder sister Helen and her family. Initially Connolly seemed to accept the situation but eventuality prodded by his wife he instigated proceedings that aimed to cause the forfeiture clause to be declared null and void.

Macrory says in his introduction that he has been at pains not to take sides. That being the case Helen and in particular her husband Lucius Thompson - McCausland come across as very reasonable and honourable individuals. The author's portrayal of Connolly and his wife Peggy is not descriptive of individuals who are quite as personable as the Thompson-McCaulands.

Mention is made of mole hills on the lawns of Drenagh. A bit of a zoological faux pas that. Thankfully moles are absent from the fauna of Northern Ireland.


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Athletic Weekend

Sunday was spent pretending that I was still an athlete. I was not alone. Upwards of a thousand individuals who had attained at least their thirty fifth birthday concentrated upon Tullamore in Co. Offaly for the 2015 Irish Masters Championships. I suppose that strictly speaking I was a guest at these, "games," but my appearance was not challenged. In any event it is not a closed championship. For me this is just another event, albeit somewhat convenient, where I can participate in an event with my peers or near peers. Unfortunately I was obliged to accept second place in both the 800m and 1500m. That said he who snooked in front of me was a newbie to the age category. He may have beaten me by a quarter of a second in both races but the age tables say that he should have beaten me by some three and six seconds. He didn't. I retain the moral if not the athletic high ground. I will endeavour to ensure that he does not beat me again.




Ambling past Frybrook House.


Whilst returning home from last weekend's athletic exploits in Tullamore I stopped off for lunch in Boyle, Co. Roscommon. In between showers I walked through a small park which borders the river that runs through the centre of the town. Unsurprisingly the river turns out to be called the River Boyle. On the other side of the river was a large three storey house. The grounds were uncared for and I am unsure whether the house has any residents currently. It transpires that this is Frybrook House and it appears that it is on the market for what seems to be the relatively modest sum of €340,000. The house is set on a six acre site and the asking price includes four houses on an adjoining street and a period building which is or at least was being utilised as a small cafe.

The house was built in 1753 for a a Henry Fry who had moved to the town from Co. Offaly at the behest of the Earl of Kingston to establish a weaving business. Originally the family came from Somerset and a scion from same established the famous chocolate manufacturing business which bore the family name.

The house is five bay and has a hipped roof. There is a tooled limestone Palladian window to the central bay with an oculus window to the second floor. The entrance, also of tooled limestone, is pedimented with sidelights on either side. It is only in the past thirty years that ownership has passed out of the Fry family.